End-of-Semester Adventures

Last night I took the train into the city to attend the Lexi Rudnitsky Poetry Prize Winners reading at McNally Books in Soho. It was quite the adventure for a preggo mother of two. 

First, it was a night off from the prepare dinner/eat dinner/bedtime three-ring circus, and second, I was able to rediscover the joy of maneuvering my larger girth through tight city interiors, such as the basement of McNally's Books, where I knocked copies of the Cheryl Strayed Wild memoir right onto the ground in a very boorish manner. 

I should come equipped with one of those beeping sensors, like the ones that commercial trucks have when they back up, only it should sound its alarm whenever I begin moving, period -- backwards, sideways, frontwards, whatever. Watch out, world! Preggo's on the move! I need some kind of warning system not only because I have a rounder, wider body overall, but because my sense of balance and spatial intelligence has been compromised over the past few weeks, to the point where simply thinking about moving in one direction is enough to make me wobble like a Weeble . . . only I really will fall down, unlike the toy. Really. It happened with the other two pregnancies. And this one ain't any prettier.

Anyway, where was I? (My spatial intelligence isn't the only thing that's been compromised, can you tell?) Oh, before the reading I crashed the Thursday Night Commuter Party that's held weekly by three of my colleagues who live in Manhattan and commute to Stuffolk to teach. It was lovely -- another colleague and her husband crashed the party too, on their way to a concert, and for an hour and a half we were that group on the train that every other passenger probably wishes was elsewhere . . . like in a bar somewhere, and not on the train! We laughed and gossiped and ate cheese and crackers and olives and I learned from my colleague S.R. that Black Box "is really the Cadillac of the boxed wines," a tidbit I'll have to save for later when I'm able to fully indulge in such decadence. It was such fun it makes me wish I was able to do that with them every week, but I'm really quite sure A. would not be happy with that arrangement.

When we arrived at Penn Station we decamped at the absolutely gorgeous, beautiful, very sophisticated Washington Square (well, off the square, but very nearby) apartment of my absolutely gorgeous, beautiful, very sophisticated and dear office mate, C.C. I always knew she was a woman of impeccable taste and elegance, but a visit to her home confirmed it. That chick's got style. So not only does she have a glamorous life filled with exotic travel between semesters, but she comes home to the height of urban living. When I grow up, I want to be C.C., complete with sold-separately accessories, such as the C.C. Intellectual Merry Drinkers Salon, and the C.C. Passport.

I had to depart the soiree early, however, because I had to make it to the reading on time -- which I did (Yay, Yellow Cab! If not for them, I'd still be wandering around the Lower West Side instead of the Lower East Side looking for McNally's).

To See the Queen
Allison Seay reads from the galley of To See the Queen.
The reading was so nice -- it's been so long since I've attended a reading, I'd almost forgotten how nice it can be to simply go somewhere and listen to poetry! It was held in memory, like Persea Books' annual first-book prize, of Lexi Rudnitsky, a young poet who passed away suddenly in 2005. Former winners of the prize read from their books, and I was introduced to the work of Allison Seay, the winner of the 2012 prize, whose book To See the Queen: Poems will be released by Persea early next year. Her reading was lovely -- she seemed nervous, charmingly so, and she read her imaginative, charged poems in a quiet, unassuming way, and the tension between the poem's lines and her quiet voice was really effective  . . . and unaffected. I'm a huge fan of readers of poetry who avoid that annoying sing-song "poet voice". Seay did this with aplomb.

Cynthia Marie Hoffman reads from Sightseer.

And later I was able to hear my good friend Cynthia Marie Hoffman read from her book of travel poems titled Sightseer. By coincidence she read a good number of the poems I often cover with my creative writing students when we discuss her book, and it was nice to be reminded, as she read, of why these poems work so well. Also, she read a poem in the book that's based on a trip we took from London to Wales in 1999, just the two of us in a rented car and a limited sense of direction, to a burial mound on the Isle of Anglesey (one of my favorite places in the entire world. No kidding. My ashes will be scattered there). It was the first time I'd heard her read the poem, which put such a nice personal touch on the reading (for me, of course -- no one else knew I was the woman referred to in the poem). Afterwards I was able to catch up with C.M.H. for a few, precious minutes before she went to a reception for the readers and I leaped into a cab and made my way back to Penn Station.

The ride home was odd. A disorderly passenger delayed the train leaving the station, and then we had to stop at another station about a half hour into the trip because another passenger was having a seizure. It made the trip home fairly longer than usual -- but I read Lexi Rudnitsky's entire book of poems, A Doorless Knocking Into Night -- so it was time well-spent, even if I am exceedingly tired, and now running late, this morning. 

Today is a low-stakes day, though -- for me, anyway. Students are turning in their final research papers all day while I ensconce myself in my office and evaluate developmental writing portfolios. With any luck, I might actually make good ground with my catch-up grading . . . and make next week's fury of final grading a little less furious.


Liz said…
Sounds like a very enjoyable evening. Glad you were able to go.

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